I cannot believe it’s been 6 years since we last saw Ralph and Vanellope! And when we join them again, they’re still in the same arcade, right where we left them. By day carrying out their respective gaming duties, by night socialising with the other arcade characters and drinking together in Tappers bar. They seem happy and content with life, although Vanellope is beginning to feel that there’s more to life than the same old Sugar Rush races all day every day.
In an attempt to help his friend and spice things up for her, Ralph decides to smash a new race course through the Sugar Rush landscape. But things don’t go quite according to plan, resulting in a broken steering wheel on the arcade machine. Unfortunately, the company responsible for making that machine is no longer in business so parts for it aren’t readily available, or too expensive to buy online, so the plug gets pulled on the machine. With the future of the game in jeopardy, and with the Sugar Rush inhabitants having to find new homes with the other arcade residents, Ralph and Vanellope decide to try and help. The arcade has just had a Wi-fi router plugged in, and they overheard one of the kids in the arcade earlier talking about the steering wheel being available online on some site called eBoy? So, they decide to go investigate this thing called the internet.
I’ve seen a few reviews that draw comparisons to this movie and with ‘Ready Player One’ from earlier this year. As we entered the Oasis of Ready Player One, we were treated to an amazing visual onslaught of wonderful imagery and instantly recognisable characters. And, as Ralph and Vanellope enter the internet, it’s a similarly enjoyable experience. Recognisable brands and websites are everywhere you look, either as buildings or with their concepts imaginatively represented in some form. Twitter birds fly around, characters force suspicious looking spam adverts in your face while busy web traffic is everywhere, constantly being directed to its next destination. Ralph and Vanellope eventually find their way to eBay, where the steering wheel they need is currently being auctioned, but they don’t really understand the bidding process and end up winning it for more money than they can possibly pay. They then set about finding a way to get rich quick so that they can pay for the wheel and get it shipped to the arcade before the game gets removed for scrap. Their journey takes them to an online game called ‘Slaughter Race’, a violent racing game featuring skilled racer Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot), a world which immediately excites racing fiend Vanellope, who feels right at home.
It’s great to see the characters of Ralph and Vanellope back on our screens. Ralph is still very funny and Vanellope is still extremely cute! There are also a large number of sections of the movie which work very well and are extremely enjoyable. Aside from the initial introduction to the internet, and the whole Slaughter Race segment, probably the most enjoyable portion is the visit to Disney and the Disney princesses, which received such a big reaction when featured in the various trailers for the movie. And we don’t just get the princesses either, we also get to see Marvel and Star Wars characters too! Another chance to scour the screen to try and spot background characters, and a reminder that Disney is in fact slowly taking over the world!
Towards the end of the movie I felt that things weren’t so interesting and enjoyable, with a lengthy segment involving a virus and how it spreads and manifests itself, threatening the whole internet. But that’s a minor negative from me in what is overall a hugely enjoyable sequel. There are also a number of very strong messages throughout, from the Disney princesses and the way they act, to the way that internet negativity is portrayed. I’m not sure of the longevity of this movie though – after all, at the speed the internet develops these days, how many of the sites or concepts featured are going to still be around or even relevant in another 6 years time?